This post was originally published on 9/25/15 at fromblankpages.blogspot.com.
There are a lot of pillow tutorials out there, and a lot of them are fantastic! (Sew Mama Sew is an awesome place to start if you are looking for a good pillow tutorial!) Over the years I’ve combined my favorite techniques from ones I’ve liked to create the perfect pillow. Ok, maybe not perfect, but it’s my favorite way to make them! I hope you’ll enjoy this method as well, or at least pick up a few techniques from this pillow tutorial that you can incorporate into your own pillows.
What You Need:
- A pillow front (a quilted piece of fabric or a quilt block make for beautiful pillows! You can google decorative pillows to get a lot of ideas, or check out the patterns in my shop… I have a lot of patterns that would make beautiful pillows!) 😉
- Fabric for the back: you’ll need two pieces.
- One piece that is the about the same height as your pillow by the same width (for above the zipper).
- One piece that is between 3-4 inches by the width of your pillow (for below the zipper).
- One zipper, equal to the width of the pillow or longer.
- Normal sewing supplies: thread, scissors, rotary cutter, cutting mat, ruler, sewing machine, walking foot, zipper foot, and any other tool you like to use while sewing.
Before you Start:
1 – Prepare your pillow front. My pillow fronts are almost always a quilted “quilt top” or “quilt sandwich” (a piece of fabric that will be the front of the pillow, a layer of batting, and a backing fabric. You can quilt this by machine or by hand. If you don’t want it quilted, at least baste around the edge to keep the layers together.) Square up your pillow front so it is the finished size plus 1/4 inch on all sides.
For my pillow front I’m using a block I made for the MQG fabric challenge using The Cottage Garden designed by The Quilted Fish for Riley Blake. I based my block off of one of the flowers in one of the prints.
The pillow front is cut to 14 1/2″ x 14 1/2″ for a 14″ square pillow.
Assembling the Pillow Back
2 – Cut the fabric pieces for the back. You will need two pieces of fabric for the back. One piece go to above the zipper, and one to go below it. I didn’t have enough fabric left for one solid piece to go above the zipper, so I pieced the top piece, shown below.
Both pieces need to be the same width as your pillow.
:: Cut the top piece the same height as your pillow (you will probably end up cutting a little off the top, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, and I like a little wiggle room). My top piece is 14 1/2″ wide by about 14 inch tall.
:: Cut the bottom piece about 3 1/2 inches to 4 inches wide. My bottom piece is 4″ by 14 1/2″.
I didn’t realize that my SD card was full in my camera, so a few of the photos I thought I took, didn’t take, so the photos skip ahead a little, but the process is still the same!
3. Layout your top piece, zipper and bottom piece. (The bottom piece is already attached in the photos, just ignore that.)
4. Draw a thin line of glue (Elmer’s washable school glue) along one side of the zipper. I like LOVE using these glue tips from Cristy of Purple Daisy Quilting. You can skip this step if you prefer pinning, and continue with step 5.
5. Flip over your fabric, aligning the raw edge of the fabric (the edge that is closest to the zipper in the above step) with the edge of the zipper (here is where you would pin the fabric to the zipper) or if you used glue, use a warm iron and gently press to set the glue.
6. Use your zipper foot and sew along the edge you just basted. Back stitch at the beginning and end.
7. Use your walking foot to zigzag along the same edge, to prevent fraying of your fabric. You won’t see this part, but it’ll make for a nicer finish on the inside.
Here’s what the zigzag stitch looks like on just the bottom piece.
A close up of both sides of the zipper with the zigzag stitch.
8. Flip over the fabric and press the fabric away from the zipper teeth using your iron. Use your zipper foot and top stitch along the edge of the fabric.
The top stitch on just the bottom piece.
The top stitch on both the top and bottom.
9. Repeat these steps with the other fabric piece, so that both top and bottom pieces are attached to the zipper and top stitched as shown in the photo above.
10. Fold the top piece down and press.
11. Fold the top piece back up, with the fold in the fabric on the opposite side of the zipper. The zipper and top stitch of the bottom piece should be covered. Press to crease the fold.
12. Unfold the fabric and draw a thin line of glue near the edge of the fabric. Fold the fabric back up, careful to keep the fold on the crease. Press. OR you can simply pin the fabric in place. But don’t just sew it… I tried that and it didn’t look pretty. 😉
13. Use your zipper foot and sew down the fabric along the size of the zipper teeth. It should be close to your original top stitch.
Here’s a close up of what it looks like under the flap and you can also see how it looks with the flap down.
14. Open your zipper so the zipper pull is towards the center of the pillow back. Top stitch both ends down, stitching over the zipper a few times to secure it (this secures the zipper pull so it doesn’t come off. You don’t want that to happen… trust me!)
Look at where the zipper sticks out and you can see just inside where I stitched across the zipper. Keep these stitches less than 1/4 inch from the edge of the fabric so they don’t show on your finished pillow.
15. Trim your pillow back to the same size as the pillow front, also cutting off the ends of the zippers that are sticking out in the photo above. If you’ve made the top and bottom pieces taller than needed, you can know play around a little with how high up you want your zipper to be in the back. I like it towards the bottom, though not at the bottom. You could also adjust the fabric pieces so it’s more in the middle if you would like… there’s no right or wrong.
Assembling the Pillow
16. Lay the pillow back over the pillow front, with right sides facing. Make sure the zipper is open at least half way, or a little more.
17. With your walking foot, stitch all the way around your pillow. Backstitch at the beginning and end. Trim your corners.
This next part I learned from this tutorial. I’ve only used it twice now, but I actually really love it! I’m tempted to go back and do this on all my pillows I’ve already made! The original tutorial says that it eliminates the floppy corners that form on pillows after a while, something I’ve noticed on my pillows. Try it, maybe you’ll like it too! And once the pillow is stuffed, you really don’t notice the tapered corners at all! This part is optional, so you can skip it if you don’t want to do it, continuing to step 21.
18. Measure 1/2 inch in from each corner, mark. Measure down 5 inches on each side and mark. Use a ruler or straight edge to draw a line from the 5 inch mark to the 1/2 inch mark. Repeat on all corners.
Here’s a close-up of what that looks like.
19. Use the lines you just drew as a guide, and sew 1/4 inch on the inside of them.
20. Trim the corners to your new sew line.
21. Trim the corners (the points of the corners – you can see the difference from the above photo and the photo below). Using your walking foot, zigzag stitch around the entire pillow, careful to stay in the seam allowance. This keeps the pillow from fraying on the inside. Even though you won’t see the inside, I like to know that my pillow doesn’t only look great on the outside, it also has great quality on the inside!
22. Now you can turn your pillow inside out, poke out the corners and press the sides. Here is the front and back of my pillow. (Notice how the corners look after I tapered the corners.)
23. Stuff with a pillow insert and you are ready for a nap!
Notice how the corners are still pointy, even though they are tapered, but not so much that they begin to be floppy. I like it. What do you think?
Thank you for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed the tutorial!
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!